31Oct

Latest appeal against PPI deadline fails, as complaint volumes increase

Claims management company We Fight Any Claim appears to have reached the end of the road in its efforts to have the payment protection insurance (PPI) claims deadline set aside.

The company had argued that allowing authorised firms to refuse to consider PPI complaints made after August 29 2019 would constitute a breach of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s legal responsibility to act in the interests of consumers.

However, the Court of Appeal has refused the company’s latest application, and this decision is final and cannot be appealed further.

We Fight Any Claim’s legal advisor Mark Davies reacted to the ruling by saying:

“It’s just very, very sad for people who are never going to get the money that was taken.

“The FCA says 64 million policies were sold, but we think that’s an underestimate. The vast bulk of people haven’t claimed, and huge numbers of them were mis-sold without knowing, and now they will never get the chance to claim.”

Despite Mr Davies’ comments however, anyone who has a case for PPI mis-selling, or is due a refund of an excessively large PPI commission payment, can still make their case by submitting a complaint prior to August 2019.

It has only been possible to make a PPI complaint related to an excessive commission payment since August of this year. Under the Plevin court ruling, consumers are entitled to compensation if the firm selling the PPI failed to disclose that it received a commission payment that amounted to more than 50% of the insurance premium.

Early signs are that some consumers are receiving four-figure payouts having made Plevin complaints. Plevin payouts are unlikely to be as high as for mis-sold PPI, as only the amount by which the commission exceeded 50% would be refunded here. Some consumers who have been unsuccessful with previous mis-selling complaints have also reported being successful with Plevin complaints.

Meanwhile, consumer financial website Moneysavingexpert.com has reported that one consumer received £143,000 in compensation for mis-sold PPI recently.

The FCA’s publicity campaign regarding the PPI deadline only commenced at the end of August, and as already mentioned, Plevin complaints could only be adjudicated on after this time as well. Yet the FCA is still reporting a significant increase in PPI complaint volumes in its figures for the first six months of 2017, possibly due to the publicity surrounding the likely imposition of a deadline.

Between January and June of this year, firms authorised by the FCA received 1,110,000 complaints about PPI, compared to 934,965 in the first half of 2016, representing a 17.7% increase over 12 months; and 899,051 in the second half of 2016, representing a 22.4% increase over six months.

Total complaints for all products were up from 2.06 million in the first half of 2016 to 3.32 million in the first half of this year. This large increase was to be expected, as the FCA now requires firms to report all complaints, including those that they were able to resolve within three business days.

However, few PPI mis-selling complaints are resolved so quickly, meaning that there really has been a significant increase in the numbers of people complaining about this product.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

30Oct

ICO finds issues with firms’ privacy notices

The UK data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), has reviewed the data protection and privacy notices that appear on the websites of a variety of firms in the retail, banking and lending, and travel and finance price comparison sectors. The ICO has found that these notices are “often inadequate”, and that “organisations need to be more open, honest and transparent in their online privacy notices about how they handle people’s personal data.”

The ICO review found that:

  • 26 of the 30 firms whose websites were examined did not set out clearly how and where consumers’ personal information would be stored. Particular criticisms were made of firms being “unclear and vague” regarding the potential transfer of data to other countries
  • 26 firms did not satisfactorily explain whether data might be shared with third parties, and if so, which parties that might involve
  • Three firms did not make any mention in their notices of whether data might be shared with third parties
  • 24 firms did not provide users with a clear and obvious way of having their personal data deleted or removed
  • Seven firms did not inform users how they could access the data held about them – this is often done via a Subject Access Request

Several recent ICO fines have concerned firms sending marketing messages (such as texts, emails and recorded calls). In a number of these cases, the firms believed that the recipients had given their consent to being contacted in this way, but the ICO found that they were relying on vague, non-specific consent statements that certainly did not make clear who the data might be passed to, and for what purposes.

Making use of robust consent statements will become all the more important after May 2018, when the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is introduced. This Regulation contains more stringent requirements for consent notices than is the case under existing UK data protection law, and also allows regulators to impose massive fines on firms who fail to comply – fines could be as large as the higher of 4% of annual turnover or €20 million. The GDPR will be enshrined into UK law prior to Brexit.

The ICO’s review was part of a worldwide review by 24 different data protection regulators, who together looked at 455 websites and apps.

ICO Intelligence and Research Group Manager Adam Stevens said:

“The findings suggest that people using those websites that we and our international partners examined are generally not very well informed about what happens to their data once it has been collected. That just won’t do. It is important that it is clear to people how they can control their information online.

“Working with our global partners has helped to identify that this is a worldwide problem. The GDPR is coming in May 2018 and from what we’ve found so far, organisations which want to do business or operate in the EEA have a lot of work to do if they don’t want to be breaking the new law.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

27Oct

FCA director speaks about the ageing population

Linda Woodall, Director of Life Insurance and Financial Advice at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), spoke at the launch event of the regulator’s Ageing Population Occasional Paper in October 2017.

Ms Woodall began by highlighting the extent to which the UK’s population is getting older. She said that “one in three babies born today can expect to celebrate their 100th birthday; by 2050, one in four people will be aged over 65; and those aged over 65 already outnumber those under 18.”

She went on to highlight some ways in which older consumers may be being disadvantaged by the financial services sector, including:

  • They could find themselves excluded from some financial services altogether
  • In other cases, they could experience poor customer outcomes
  • Firms could to do more to support older consumers, both in how products are designed and how older customers are assisted by the firms
  • Whilst not all older consumers are vulnerable, they are more likely to become vulnerable, whether this is through bereavement, poor health, loss of mental capacity or reduced financial circumstances during retirement

Next, Ms Woodall suggested that firms could involve older consumers in testing and product design exercises. She commented that “all too often, products and services appear designed for an ‘average’ consumer – who may not actually exist.”

Then she went on to encourage firms to think about how they could provide better support and service to older customers.

In conclusion, the FCA director highlighted that her organisation’s work on the ageing population was an ongoing exercise. She also hinted at possible changes to the FCA’s rules to ensure firms treat older customers appropriately. In her final remarks, she said:

“We will continue to pay close attention to issues that affect older customers, using our sector views and strategies to tackle harm and maintaining ongoing dialogue with firms, trade and professional bodies, and consumer groups.

“We anticipate further review in three to five years of how the financial services industry is adapting to meet the needs of older consumers. This will allow time for firms to respond to the issues discussed in our paper, and for us to consider if further rules are needed beyond the core requirement to Treat Customers Fairly.

“We encourage you to take forward the challenge, and implement solutions that deliver better outcomes for older consumers. Meeting that challenge will be good for consumers, for wider society and actually good for businesses too.”

Back in September 2016, the FCA identified some specific issues affecting older consumers, which included:

  • Pensions – how effective competition can be facilitated
  • Advice and guidance – there is a general need to improve basic financial capability and budgeting skills amongst older people
  • Mortgages – a number of lenders are reportedly refusing to lend if the mortgage term would run past age 65
  • Scams and fraud – the regulator acknowledges that older people are more likely to fall victim to fraud

The regulator’s discussion paper on the ageing population acknowledges:

  • That the older generation may be less technologically aware
  • Insurers may restrict access to their products for older people, by imposing higher premiums or setting maximum age limits
  • Competition in the equity release market is limited
  • Many retirees are accessing their pension funds without taking professional advice or consulting the Pension Wise guidance service

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

 

25Oct

Provident group fined by ICO again

Vanquis Bank Limited, part of Provident Financial, has been fined £75,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for sending large numbers of spam marketing texts and emails. The credit card provider was responsible for 870,849 spam text messages and 620,000 spam emails.

The case highlights the importance of ensuring that ‘consent statements’ and the like are worded correctly. Vanquis apparently believed that the recipients had consented in advance to receiving the communications, but the ICO said that the consent statement used on the marketing lists Vanquis obtained from other parties was not sufficiently robust. The ICO comments that these consent statements “included non-specific, general wording, such as ‘trusted parties’ and ‘carefully selected third parties’.” It does not believe that the statement made it clear that individuals’ data could be passed to firms such as Vanquis, who would then send marketing texts and emails to these people regarding credit cards.

The data protection watchdog clearly does not believe therefore that use of this wording in consent statements is sufficient, even under existing UK data protection law. Companies need to be totally transparent with consumers as to exactly what their data will be used for. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be introduced in May 2018, from which date firms will need to ensure their procedures for obtaining consent are even more robust.

Firms that fail to comply with GDPR could be fined up to €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is greater. At present the ICO can only impose fines of up to £500,000.

ICO Head of Enforcement Steve Eckersley said:

“There are rules in place to protect people from the irritation, and in some cases anxiety and distress, spam texts and emails cause.

“People need to be properly informed about what they are consenting to. Telling them their details could be passed to ‘similar organisations’ or ‘selected third parties’ cannot be relied upon as specific consent.

“People were so exasperated by these messages that they complained to us. That sparked two ICO investigations and enabled us to take action and hold the firms behind this nuisance to account.

“These firms should have taken responsibility for ensuring they had obtained clear and specific consent for the sending of the messages. They didn’t and that is unacceptable.”

When Mr Eckersley refers to “two investigations”, he is also referring to a fine imposed on Xerpla, who sent over one million spam emails regarding various consumer goods.

The action against Vanquis represents the second occasion in the last three months when a Provident Financial company has been fined by the ICO. In July, Provident Personal Credit Ltd was fined £80,000 after various third-party affiliate companies sent 999,057 unsolicited text messages on its behalf. These spam texts were intended to promote the Satsuma Loans brand.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

24Oct

FCA reveals results of Financial Lives Survey

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published the results of the first Financial Lives Survey. Almost 13,000 adults were surveyed regarding their experiences of retail financial products and services.

Some of the findings of the survey include:

  • 50% of adults, and 53% of women, are potentially vulnerable in some way. Customers of financial services firms may be vulnerable for all manner of reasons, e.g. lack of financial literacy, illness, loss of mental capacity or serious financial difficulty. 69% of over 75s and 77% of over 85s display characteristics of vulnerability
  • 17% of single parents aged 18-34 are using high-cost credit, compared to just 6% of all respondents
  • 1 million (around 8%) are classed as being in financial difficulty, by virtue of having failed to pay domestic bills or meet credit commitments in at least three of the last six months. This figure increases to 13% in the 25-34 age group
  • 17% would struggle if their monthly rent or mortgage payment rose by just £50.
  • 19% of those aged 25-34 have no savings whatsoever, while a further 30% of this age group have less than £1,000 put by. Meanwhile, the over 65s have average cash savings of £45,000 per person
  • 15% of those aged 45 to 54 have an interest-only mortgage
  • Only 35% of those aged 45-54 have thought in detail about how they will manage in retirement. 15 million are not saving for retirement in any way, and 70% of the 18-24 age group have no private pension provision. Of those in the youngest age group who do have a defined contribution plan, 60% have less than £5,000 in their pot and 31% do not know the value of the plan, meaning that only 9% can definitely say they have more than £5,000 in their pot. Many commentators have reacted to the survey by calling for 18-year-olds to be automatically enrolled into workplace pensions – at present employers don’t need to enrol their staff until they reach age 22
  • One in four of those who have accessed their pension savings have no idea what arrangement they used to do so. 10% of the 55-64 age group incorrectly believe that pension drawdown is a method of obtaining a guaranteed income for life
  • 13% of those who have received professional financial advice during the last 12 months believe that their adviser has mis-sold them a product at some stage
  • 24% say they have “little or no confidence” when it comes to managing money, while 46% say their level of knowledge is low. 17 million people who hold motor insurance do not understand the term ‘no claims protection’

Andrew Bailey, FCA Chief Executive, said:

“I would like to thank everyone who took part in the survey. The findings give us a wealth of information which will be used to increase our knowledge and understanding of the issues affecting consumers and how to best protect them. The data gathered will be invaluable in helping the FCA prioritise our work. We also hope that the research will provide valuable insight for other organisations focusing on consumers and finance.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

23Oct

FCA announces new review of debt management sector

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that it has commenced a further thematic review of the debt management sector.

The regulator comments that:

“Debt management remains a priority for us as poor practice by debt management firms poses a high risk to consumers, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances. It is important that we have the best possible understanding of how the market as a whole is working for consumers. We want to understand how providers across this sector are meeting the needs of their customers.”

During the review, the FCA will assess both commercial and free-to-customer debt management organisations. By reviewing customer files, and visiting firms to interview staff and see their processes in action, the FCA aims to gain an understanding of:

  • The effectiveness of the advice processes firms are using
  • The outcomes to customers from the service they receive

The FCA says it wants “to understand where there is good practice that is helping consumers to achieve positive results in dealing with their debts, as well as identifying areas for improvement.”

Although the regulator says that the main purpose of the review is to carry out a broader assessment of how the sector is functioning, it warns that action could still be taken against individual firms who are found to be failing to comply with their obligations.

The review will not be completed until the first quarter of 2019.

Alongside its announcement that the review has commenced, the FCA has also taken the opportunity to remind debt management firms of the work it has previously carried out in this sector. This includes:

  • Its initial warning to firms on taking over as consumer credit regulator in 2014. Victoria Raffe, director of authorisations at the FCA, commented at the time that “many firms are falling well short of our expectations and they will need to raise their game if they want to continue operating.” The FCA also set out its expectations of debt management firms at this initial stage, which included their obligations to explain their fee structure clearly and transparently, to provide suitable advice, to have sufficiently well-trained staff, and to act in customers’ interests regardless of any financial incentives on offer
  • The first thematic review in 2015, which showed that some firms were failing to adequately assess customers’ financial circumstances before recommending a debt management solution, were not fully considering all alternatives to debt management plans, were not setting out the scope of their service and were encouraging vulnerable customers to purchase products which were not suitable and which made their debt position worse
  • The November 2015 Dear CEO letter regarding the FCA’s expectations of debt management firms when customers and/or customers’ personal information are being transferred
  • The December 2016 Dear CEO letter, which highlighted the need to carry out an annual review of each customer’s debt management plan, to assess whether they remained suitable for the customer’s circumstances

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

20Oct

FCA takes action against husband and wife advisers who failed to disclose their financial circumstances

Husband and wife financial advisers Mrs Colette Chiesa and Mr John Chiesa have been prohibited from working in financial services by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) after displaying a lack of integrity. The couple failed to disclose the lavish lifestyle that they continued to lead during and after bankruptcy proceedings, while the entire industry was forced to foot the bill for their past misconduct. Mrs Chiesa has also been fined £50,000 after she was found to have misled the regulator during an interview.

Mr and Mrs Chiesa together controlled advisory firm Westwood Independent Financial Planners. In May 2011, Westwood was fined £100,000 by the previous regulator, the Financial Services Authority, over its mis-selling of Geared Traded Endowment Products (GTEPs). The firm advised a number of customers with low risk tolerances to invest in these high-risk products. This fine was confirmed in November 2013, after the firm unsuccessfully appealed to the Tribunal.

Westwood however had already been declared insolvent prior to the end of 2011, and went into sequestration, the Scottish term for bankruptcy.

A Trustee was duly appointed to establish the value of the Chiesas’ assets and liabilities. However, the FCA says that Mr and Mrs Chiesa made “inadequate, incomplete and misleading disclosures to their Trustee about their financial situation during their sequestration, in order to avoid the Trustee inquiring into, and potentially recovering, assets for the benefit of their creditors.”

Examples of matters the Chiesas failed to disclose include:

  • Their interest in an unregulated company that could provide them with income of up to £1 million per year via an offshore trust.
  • That this unregulated company regularly paid significant personal and living expenses on their behalf. As a result, they were able to pay rent of £5,000 per month on a London property, and Mrs Chiesa could spend an average of £6,000 per month on luxuries, while Mr Chiesa was spending on average £12,000 per month. They were thus able to maintain a lifestyle that included cosmetic dental treatment, a Porsche car and flying lessons.

All the while Mr and Mrs Chiesa were paying only £200 per month towards their creditors, and the customers who were victims of their mis-selling of GTEPs were forced to turn to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). By late 2016 the FSCS had paid out over £3.8 million – sums which were paid by all regulated firms via their FSCS levies.

The FCA thus felt it had no option but to impose the ultimate sanction on both Mr and Mrs Chiesa – a complete ban on working anywhere in the financial services sector.

The additional fine on Mrs Chiesa was imposed as she tried to give the FCA the false impression that she lacked knowledge of the firm’s financial arrangements, when in fact she held a key role at Westwood. She also attempted to mislead the regulator about her failure to disclose her ownership of valuable jewellery.

The Chiesas initially attempted to have these prohibition orders struck out by the Tribunal as well, but opted to withdraw their references to the Tribunal in September 2017.

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said:

“The Chiesas misled their creditors, especially the FSCS, in a calculated way. Their misconduct demonstrates a serious lack of integrity.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

19Oct

FCA director warns firms not to expect reduction in regulatory burden after Brexit

Any financial services firm hoping for a reduction in their regulatory obligations after the UK exits the European Union may be disappointed, if comments by the regulator’s executive director of strategy and competition are anything to go by.

In an appearance before the House of Lords European Union justice sub-committee in early October 2017, Christopher Woolard commented:

“This is an international system we are talking about here. If you look at where the majority of business is done, it is in pretty rough enforcement jurisdictions.

“What looks like a good plan to deregulate in certain circumstances comes back to bite people years later when the compensation scheme kicks in.

“This is a system of international standards where money tends to have a flight to quality.”

Mr Woolard went on to speak about the regulatory regime in Singapore, widely perceived to be a more lenient system, by saying:

“This phrase of ‘Singapore-on-Thames’ gets used a lot and clearly the Singaporean authorities have an approach to how they attract international business but the thing I have learnt when dealing with their regulator is that their system of regulation is pretty much the same standard you would find in the US or Hong Kong or here.

“Of course, there are differences in the nuances between different systems but I don’t think there is a really established financial services regulator around the world who would argue that having a low standard of consumer protection is a good way of having a solid basis for having an industry to go forwards.”

His next remarks suggested that he believes many of the measures introduced by the EU would have been necessary in any case, when he commented:
“The majority of EU regulations around financial services is often something that if it didn’t exist, we would want to have something similar anyway.

“Clearly when that is developed in the context of 28 member states there will be pieces we would deal with in a different way but the underlying principle will be the same.”

His comments were echoed the following day by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond MP, who told the Treasury Select Committee that he believed the UK would require “enhanced equivalence” with the European Union regulatory regime. He rejected suggestions that the UK should seek regulatory equivalence with the United States, where President Trump is thought to favour reducing the regulatory burden for financial services.

One example of EU legislation that UK firms will need to comply with is Part II of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MifID II). It comes into force in January 2018, when its implications for advisory firms could be far reaching, and could have an impact in areas such as:

  • Resolution of conflicts of interest
  • Complaints resolution
  • Handling of client assets
  • Inducements and payments to third parties
  • Suitability of advice
  • Provision of information to clients
  • Maintaining records of client meetings

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

17Oct

FCA confirms ban on UCIS adviser

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed its fine and ban on Clive Rosier, after he was denied leave to appeal against the sanctions by the Court of Appeal.

The long-running saga dates back to May 2013, when the FCA proposed to take action against Mr Rosier over deficiencies in his advice regarding Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes (UCIS).

Mr Rosier failed to:

  • Conduct sufficient fact-finding before advising his clients on their investment needs
  • Ensure the suitability of his advice
  • Handle complaints from clients in accordance with the relevant rules
  • Communicate clearly with the FCA regarding a review of Geared Traded Endowment Policies that he was asked to complete
  • Record the application of exemptions to section 238(1) of the Financial Services and Markets Act, which dictates which individuals a UCIS can be promoted to
  • Gather sufficient management information
  • Assess his own performance to ensure that he stayed up-to-date with regulatory requirements

Mr Rosier also failed to pay his Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy.

Mr Rosier appealed to the Upper Tribunal against the original FCA enforcement action. Upper Tribunal judge Timothy Herrington said in his May 2015 judgement:

“We have found that in carrying out his functions as a director of Bayliss, as the person responsible for the processes and procedures that Bayliss followed in its dealings with its clients Mr Rosier fell below the standards to be expected of a person performing those functions.”

When he was unsuccessful at the Tribunal, he decided to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

Oxfordshire-based Mr Rosier must now pay a fine of £10,000. He is prohibited from carrying out any significant influence functions at an authorised firm, and the regulatory permission of his firm, Bayliss & Company (Financial Services) Ltd, has been cancelled.

UCIS are undoubtedly high-risk products, and many individuals and firms have been subject to enforcement action for giving unsuitable advice to clients to invest in these schemes.

A collective investment scheme, otherwise known as a ‘pooled investment’, is a fund that several people contribute to. A fund manager then invests the pooled money in assets.

UCIS are high-risk for a number of reasons. They often invest in assets that are difficult to value accurately, such as fine wine, crops and timber. They are not traded on a recognised stock exchange and it can be impossible for investors to access their money at short notice. Investors can lose a significant proportion of their original investment if a UCIS goes wrong. Clients who invest in UCIS may also not have recourse to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Mr Rosier failed to comply with the regulations regarding the marketing of UCIS. These cannot be marketed to ordinary retail investors, and should only be targeted at:

  • Certified high net worth investors
  • Sophisticated investors and self-certified sophisticated investors
  • Those who already have an existing UCIS

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

16Oct

CMCs are selling customer data to pension scammers, says advisory body head

Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS), has said that she believes some claims management companies (CMCs) are passing consumers’ details to pension scammers.

Speaking at an event called Unpackaging Pensions, hosted by trade publication FTAdviser, Ms Cracknell said that her organisation had received a number of calls from people who had previously been in contact with a CMC regarding payment protection insurance, and who had since received suspicious cold calls regarding their pensions.

It may be the case that the CMCs feel they are justified in doing this because the individual previously ticked a box saying they were happy to receive marketing communications from third parties.

Existing data protection law expects companies to be transparent with customers regarding exactly who their personal data may be passed to. Even more stringent laws regarding this will come into force from May 2018, when the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation becomes law.

Ms Cracknell went on to speak of her concern about the problem of pension scams, highlighting that some scams “are completely legal”, even if they were also “nasty, horrid and expensive”.

The TPAS chief added:

“If you move your pension pot into another legal pension pot, in which the investments are then made in something really inappropriate, there is nobody to protect you in that scenario.”

She welcomed the Government’s plans to press ahead with a ban on firms making cold calls regarding pensions, although the Government has said that the legislation will only be introduced when there is sufficient parliamentary time.

Ms Cracknell however said that the ban would only work if it was accompanied by a “very big awareness campaign”, adding that “the pickings are far too rich for these scammers to stop” simply because cold calling was to be made illegal.

Under the Government’s plans, firms will only be able to make calls regarding pension services to clients with whom they have an established business relationship. This means they will not be able to cold call anyone who may simply have opted in to receiving marketing communications at some stage in the past. Texts and emails will also be covered by the ban. Firms that flout the ban could face fines of up to £500,000 from the data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Banning unsolicited calls – a move Citizens Advice has been calling for – will make it much easier for people to spot a pension scam, and should put fraudsters off making contact out of the blue in the first place.”

The Government believes that some £5 million was lost by UK consumers to pension fraudsters in the first five months of 2017, and that the losses over the last three and half years total £43 million. The average loss for each victim of the scammers is put at £15,000.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

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